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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Spot Test

 

Every new technology offers the potential to effect changes in practice and many developments are driven by the worldwide demand for instant results. This is never as true as in the arena of diagnostic testing. Once the sole preserve of the hospital laboratory, tests are now increasingly being performed nearer to the patient in clinics and the home. New technology is resulting in the development of an ever greater number of sophisticated tests that can be applied in a wide range of clinical situations where rapid results bring benefit. These new tests rely on a spectrum of novel technologies, ranging from simple, easy-to-read dip-sticks to molecular-based sensing techniques.

Point-of-care testing (POCT) is the practice of performing a diagnostic or prognostic test near to the patient so that the result can be immediately acted upon. This implies that the test has to be rapid and easily performed, without the use of large or complicated equipment, as well as being suitable for a minimally trained operative to perform and interpret. The POCT can be applied in many environments: in the general practitioner’s surgery, hospital clinic, hospital ward, emergency room, intensive care unit and the patient’s home.

Implicit in the adoption of new POCT protocols is the need for a rapid measurement which allows management of the patient to be acted upon ‘on the spot’. For example, in a situation where a patient has a lifethreatening condition and the clinician needs a rapid result to enable the appropriate treatment to be given without delay, or when a patient comes into an outpatient clinic to have a routine blood test to monitor a chronic condition, the POCT provides psychological benefit by eliminating the wait for results and the need for a second visit. In the age of the internet, patients are now more educated about their conditions, and promises of instant results fuel their expectations of technology and lead to an ever-increasing demand for POCT.

The global market for all in vitro diagnostics is expected to exceed $40 billion in 2010, when the total sales for POCT are predicted to be greater than $16 billion, with a predicted compound annual growth rate of 7.8 per cent. The POCT market is growing, and sales of enzyme


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Richard Luxton has 19 years’ experience in clinical biochemistry and gained a PhD at the Institute of Neurology in London. Moving from the NHS into academia at the University of the West of England, he has focused his research in the area of developing new rapid detection technologies for point-of-care diagnostics and other applications. He is Director and co-founder of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology.

Janice Kiely graduated from Sheffield University with a BEng (Hons) in Electronic Engineering and completed a PhD from Cardiff University. Her current research focus has been on the development of novel instrumentation. She has 10 years’ expertise in the development of magnetic detection systems for magneto-immunoassay which can be applied to biomedical diagnostics. Janice is a co-founder and co-Director of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology and the Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange of Bristol Institute of Technology.

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Richard Luxton
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Janice Kiely
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